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11 May 2006 @ 04:19 pm
I've been vampirized! Well, y'know, sort of.

Blood Centers of the Pacific says there's a shortage on, so I went in to donate. Since I'm in good shape and my iron level is (they tell me) scarily high, they hooked me up to a machine which sucks my blood out, centrifuges it, takes red cells out, and then pumps the plasma and platelets back into me. They can get twice as many red cells out this way, though I have to go twice as long between donating.

Apparently I set some kind of speed record -- they'd never seen anybody fill the bag that fast and my time was, in the simple literal sense, off the charts. They were having trouble with their calculator so I got out my Palm and helped them calculate some level or other for my time being that quick. For those who care, it took me 22 minutes and I'm told a normal time is 25-30 minutes.

I found the whole thing quite amusing. Also, it's *really* weird to feel the needle pumping blood back *into* you. You can feel the vein vibrate even a significant distance away if you put your finger on your skin.
Devon: Gave Sanitydevonapple on May 11th, 2006 11:28 pm (UTC)
I will myself be volunteering for the apheresis machine next time I donate. Thanks for your report -- I will keep that in mind during my own first time in the blood recycler.
The Elf ½: Angry Catelfwreck on May 11th, 2006 11:34 pm (UTC)
Occasionally I feel guilty for not donating blood.

Then I remind myself that my twisted ethics don't require me to lie for other people's benefits, and if they want my blood, they can change the damn questionnaire. I'm healthy; my blood is healthy; my husband is healthy... but he used needle drugs 25 years ago, so we're off the donation list.
The Water Seekerplymouth on May 12th, 2006 12:22 am (UTC)
My ethics do allow me to lie but a lot of my friends get on my case about that. However, the last few times I have tried to donate I got so nervous about failing the iron test that I raised my pulserate and failed the pulserate part of the checkup instead. I am in fact seriously pissed about this. Which of course only serves to raise my pulse and bloodpressure further :P
The Elf ½elfwreck on May 12th, 2006 12:37 am (UTC)
My ethics allow me to lie in some cases, but they don't *require* it. Especially not lies that are legal perjury, for the purpose of doing someone a favor.

Knowing I've got a blood type usable by half-of-one-percent of the populace helps assuage my guilt somewhat. It's not my blood they want quarts of for the emergency room. I don't even think I could donate for anyone in my immediate family.
Noahangelbob on May 12th, 2006 12:41 am (UTC)
Yeah. I'm a type O (positive, though, not negative), so they call me up pretty regularly.

Are you AB+, or is that even rarer?
The Elf ½elfwreck on May 12th, 2006 12:55 am (UTC)
I'm AB-. Rarest of the "standard" blood types.

I can accept any negative; I can only *give* blood to other AB-negs. Which means they'd kinda like to have my blood around so they don't have to "waste" O- blood on people like me. But at one-in-two-hundred patients, and not usable in emergency settings where there's not time to run the test, I'm not able to convince myself it's really, really *important* to overcome both my squeamishness about it *and* the legal impediments they've put in my way.
The Water Seeker: fangsplymouth on May 12th, 2006 01:13 am (UTC)
Ah, I think that's the difference - I don't have any squeamishness about it. In fact I think donating blood is really FUN. It's not required of me any more than buying my boyfriend birthday presents is required of me... but in both cases I enjoy the activity AND someone else gets a benefit from it, so it is a win-win situation. (Though that analogy fails on the point that I've never had to lie in order to get my BF a birthday present... though I've come fairly close to lying in order to not spoil the suprize, so I guess it's not totally off-base :) )
Noahangelbob on May 12th, 2006 01:18 am (UTC)
Yeah. I feel physically better if I give blood periodically. I'm sort of curious how the machine-donation will compare to the usual needle-hose-and-bag version as far as that goes.
The Elf ½elfwreck on May 12th, 2006 01:28 am (UTC)
It's only a bit of squeamishness--the whole needles thing. I've never donated (was too unhealthy when I was younger, and then I was ineligible because of my sex life); my experiences with blood-collections have been doctor visits, mostly related to pregnancy. And about one time in four, the nurse can't find a decent vein, and I get stabbed half a dozen times.

It's a very mild nervousness that would probably go away if I donated... but I'm not willing to commit easily-traceable crimes to get over my nervousness. Especially not ones that support the ridiculous notion that a man who's had sex with a man (once, twenty years ago) is higher risk than a woman who's had sex with an entire frat house... who happened to be straight.
Noahangelbob on May 12th, 2006 02:24 am (UTC)
I've had much better luck with donating blood than giving little blood samples as far as the nurses finding veins quickly and only having to stick once. Probably a difference in how much experience the phlebotomist has. I assume people taking blood donations do this stuff *constantly*.

The wonderful crazy nurse I had today also claims that it's easier to hit the vein properly with the great big needle they use for donations 'cause you don't stick right through the vein. Great image, isn't it?
IANALqueen_elvis on May 11th, 2006 11:53 pm (UTC)
I tried to give apherisis once, but they couldn't even find good veins in both arms. I stopped giving blood while I was dieting, and now that I work weekends, forget it, but it might be easier for them to find my veins now.
Noahangelbob on May 11th, 2006 11:56 pm (UTC)
This was actually a one-needle machine - it just alternated taking blood and putting blood back through the same needle.
Devon: Confused Billydevonapple on May 12th, 2006 12:53 am (UTC)
like sewing, but with blood!
Euh... oh... that's just frickin' weird. We'll see if I get the one-needle or two-needle procedure.
Zachzml on May 12th, 2006 02:32 am (UTC)
Re: like sewing, but with blood!
Having done both the one needle and two needle machines, I can say they're both weird. The one needle is not noticably weirder than the two. The feeling of the blood coming back will weird you out the first time, but you get used to it. I do plasma apheresis when I can, and you can do plasma every 2 weeks, instead of every 56 days (0r 112 for RBC apheresis?)

Need to find one in Seattle now, though.
Noahangelbob on May 12th, 2006 02:41 am (UTC)
Re: like sewing, but with blood!
It's 112 for RBC, 56 for normal whole blood.
David: Plunderedtsgeisel on May 12th, 2006 12:04 am (UTC)

And, yes, I'd give blood too, if they'd only let me.
KJB: yuckcapnkjb on May 12th, 2006 12:05 am (UTC)
Oh god

I have a hard enough time just giving blood. Vibrations from blood going back in? Oh man I want to help my fellow man and all but that might be asking too much.

Well, and my iron count has never been what one would call "high", so really I'm all kinds of Not On That List. I even tried a couple weeks ago, and they were all, "nope, your iron count is 1 point too low" and I didn't even get a sticker. Apparently they have not done stickers for several years.

At least there was a hat.
Noahangelbob on May 12th, 2006 12:06 am (UTC)
Yeah. I didn't get a sticker either.

They gave me Oreos and apple juice, which was fine by me. My best ever "you gave us blood" prize was a little drop-of-blood beanie baby with arms and legs. Kinda creepy in a way I'm much amused by.
Zachzml on May 12th, 2006 02:41 am (UTC)
When I gave blood at work, I'd frequently get some lame t-shirt. The Austin Blood and Tissue Center gave me a "gallon club member" mug. They give you more for more disgusting amounts. You get your name on a plaque for 5 gallons and above.

Some day, maybe I can stand next to a barrel of oil and say "I donated this much to save your punk ass lives!"
The Onion Girl: meowtshuma on May 12th, 2006 04:43 am (UTC)
Wow. I sort of want one.
Noahangelbob on May 12th, 2006 05:07 am (UTC)
If you're at my place, feel free to have a look at mine. I can't remember if I ever showed it to you.
Zachzml on May 12th, 2006 02:46 am (UTC)
The vibrations are actually caused by fairly high pressure. It was high enough that I eventually had to have them lower some of the levels. The return pressure was high on one of mine and ended up overflowing blood into sub-dural areas and caused a bulge of blood they had to put ice on. They had to abort that arm, but I insisted they start back on the other.

When the draw pressure (blood out pressure) is too high, you also get flutters/vibrations. It's like sucking on a straw too hard. The vein can literally collapse, too, like a straw, and you'll get an alarm.

If all this makes you squeamish, stick to whole blood. Personally, I've found it painful a couple of times, but generally the needle stick is the only part that I really have trouble with. Though when that bulge happened, I started having a mild anxiety issue, too, but that was an odd exception.

One advantage of the apheresis unit seems to be that they have better phlebotomists, too .. whole blood can sometimes have some nurses that aren't as experienced, but apheresis usually has the good ones that know exactly where the veins are and how to stick you. The trick with apheresis comfort is getting the pressures, right, though, and that's just a personal thing for each vein. Aftery ou donate a couple of times, you can tell them your needs pretty quickly after knowing how things feel.
Zhaneelzhaneel69 on May 12th, 2006 02:14 am (UTC)
good on you.

I've been asked not to try to donate for several years as the last two time I went I fainted/dried up before they could get a full bag. Just lightheaded, not scared. =(
Zhaneelzhaneel69 on May 12th, 2006 02:17 am (UTC)
Fuck and reading the above has now reminded me that I'm now inelligible 'cause I've had sex with a man who had sex with another man. =( Not sure how I feel about the lying thing.
Zachzml on May 12th, 2006 02:34 am (UTC)
Lie about it.

I fucking hate the sexuality/drug related questions. I've considered boycotting just for that, but that's just a mean spirited way to deal with it. What I really wish is that there was an approved testing mechanism you could go through so you could flash a card and say "look, I'm clean, okay?"

Zhaneelzhaneel69 on May 12th, 2006 03:07 am (UTC)
Yah... I'm considering it. Though I'm still on 2-3 year probation... so...

The Water Seeker: kissboyplymouth on May 12th, 2006 03:35 am (UTC)
I've been wishing that for years. I am quite certain that I am less at risk now that I am monogamous with a bi boy (and have been for nearly 2 years now) than I was back when I was sleeping with 5-7 random new straight people a year (actually some of them might have been bi - mostly I just didn't ask). But I was still eligible for blood donation then and I'm not now. Oh, and my bi boy has slept with fewer people total than I have.
Zachzml on May 12th, 2006 02:36 am (UTC)
Have you considered plasma? Austin Blood and Tissue was always cold calling me for plasma. It takes longer, but you can do it once every 2 weeks.

It's also partially because I'm B--, both rhesus and CMV negative. My blood is fairly rare (B-, at least in Austin, was rare due to ethnic reasons, and the CMV- just makes it rarer). CMV- might be tied to why they kept wanting my plasma - plasa donations get used frequently in cases where people have compromised immune systems, and babies, whom CMV affects much more, have no immune system.

Thanks for posting. Reminded me that I needed to look up where to give blood in Seattle.
Tox Gunntoxgunn on May 12th, 2006 10:31 am (UTC)
Wish I could donate, but seems I'm more at risk of being a Mad Cow carrier than they want *shrug*